Scottsdale Senior Softball players returned to their pitcher’s mound for the fourth annual food drive to benefit the Vista Del Camino food bank.
“We’re at it again,” said Scottsdale Senior Softball Food Drive Coordinator Jim Lenzo.
He noted the final score of the team of ball players who collected more than 1,700 pounds of food and more than $1,700 in cash to donate and deliver to the Vista Del Camino food bank Jan 3. The charitable group collects throughout December with hopes of helping to replenish empty shelves at the food bank.
“Last year we donated over 1,000 pounds of food goods and over $600 in cash,” said Lenzo. “We do this for the less fortunate in our community simply because it is the right thing to do.”
He initially suggested a food donation drive to the group four years ago when they sought charitable initiatives to give back to the community. Noting efforts this year to knock the previous donation number out of the park, Lenzo said the goal was to donate about one-ton of food goods and about $2,000 in cash.
For the past 30 years, the city of Scottsdale has provided an outlet to the group through the Parks and Recreation Department, which provides the senior ball players an opportunity for open play times at available parks, time to socialize and use their skills on the field.
“We are softball players over 50, both men and women, and of all skill levels so everyone plays,” Lenzo said.
Describing the makeup of the various players, he added they play ball every Tuesday and Friday morning at Thompson Peak Park. Game participants average 20-30 players per game.
“We have had as many as 80 or more when the Canadians and other snowbirds are in town,” Lenzo said.
Last January, the Scottsdale Senior Softball group representatives, Gail Deal, Les Vinik and Lenzo donated 1,023 pounds of food and $600 to the Vista del Camino food bank in Scottsdale on behalf of the group after a game.
The softball group consists of people over age 50 who enjoy meeting for the city’s free recreational program. In recent years, the senior ball group has donated more than about 5,000 pounds of food to the local food bank.
While not an official team, Lenzo and the others maintain the group of seniors play for fun and simply enjoy each other’s companionship since the program began in the early 1990s.
The game is open to whoever shows up. However, many players may go away for the season as seasonal residents, often called “snow birds,” while some others may have passed. Regular attendees are missed when they have been absent for awhile. The ball players even go to each others’ funerals to show support for the family that they have become over time.
Then, as Lenzo stated, they’re back “at it again,” playing ball to enjoy each other’s company.